“A person doesn’t know how much he has to be thankful for until he has to pay taxes on it.”
This anonymous quote is timely. It is rumored that the Rhode Island Division of Taxation (“the Division”) is reviewing its procedures for determining whether a Rhode Islander has validly changed his domicile to another state. Domicile is the permanent residence of a taxpayer. Persons domiciled in Rhode Island pay Rhode Island income taxes and their estates are subject to Rhode Island’s estate tax.
Like so many taxpayers looking for tax relief, Florida is a major destination. Aside from the weather and other lifestyle benefits, the Sunshine State has neither an income tax nor estate tax. The exodus from Rhode Island to Florida costs Rhode Island and other high tax states significant revenue loss.
In assessing whether a former Rhode Islander has validly changed domicile, the Division applies a two-prong test:
First, does the former Rhode Islander maintain a physical abode in another state?
Second, does that person intend to permanently stay in the new location?
There are state laws and court cases that address issues to determine the intent, including time spent during the tax year in the new domicile versus Rhode Island. For income tax purposes, that will be an annual assessment. For estate tax purposes, it will be determined at the time of death. Factors that the Division will look at include: where the majority of personal property is located; voter registration; driver license; and recitation of place of domicile in documents, such as wills, trust and other legal documents.
However, former Rhode Islanders can maintain a place of abode in the Ocean State and continue to use Rhode Island professional advisors for legal, accounting, insurance and medical services without those acts being taken into consideration in determining one’s domicile.
Our Florida office has a long history of helping former Rhode Islanders to establish and maintain Florida domicile. We assist in filing for homestead exemption, recording of affidavits of Florida domicile in official county records and other acts proving intent to be a Florida domiciliary. Our everyday work on Florida’s estate and trust laws allows us to provide essential services to document and carry out your estate plan in Florida’s tax-friendly environment.
We continue to closely monitor efforts by the Division to question change of domicile and keep our clients updated on any developments. For questions or more information, please contact Bernard A. Jackvony at 401-824-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.